Find out what is the difference between ore, metal, minerals and rocks

What differentiates an ore from a mineral? Is every metal an ore? Is ore a rock? Sometimes, some doubts may arise concerning mining, mainly due to the business complex characteristic. After all ore is sold directly to other companies and reaches the consumer as an end product, including cell phones, computers and cars.

Check the difference among four terms related to mining that can be easily mixed up.


Mineral is a solid and crystalline natural body formed as a result of physicochemical process interactions in geological environments. Each mineral is classified and named not only based on its chemical composition, but also in the crystalline structure of the materials that comprise it. To find out a mineral composition, a chemical and physical analysis is performed, which determines relative proportions of different chemical elements of that mineral and its crystalline structure (for instance, quartz, pyrite, hematite, etc.).


Rocks are aggregates of one or more minerals. Thus, it can be stated that every rock is comprised by minerals. It is possible to find out what they are made of by means of analyzing their chemical or mineralogical composition. The latter expresses different mineral proportions that comprise the rock.


It is a rich mineral aggregate in a specific mineral or chemical element that is economically or technologically viable for extraction (mining). Copper, for instance, occurs naturally in some rock types, but it is only possible to become an ore when it concentrates in large quantities and it is possible to be extracted from nature.


They are the elements extracted from some ores found in soils and rocks – iron and copper are collected from ores in the adequate form to be used; steel and bronze, on the other hand, they need to be associated with other substances. Metals can be separated in two groups: ferrous (comprised by iron), like iron and steel, and non-ferrous, like aluminum, copper and heavy metals (lead, nickel, zinc and mercury).

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